The 2017 Jam of the Year tournament starts today! This is an annual Phish.net forum tradition in which we sort 64 of the hottest jams from the previous year into a single-elimination bracket. Each week, we pit jams against each other in one-on-one matchups and, as a forum member, you get to vote on which jam you prefer out of each matchup. The jam with more votes moves on to the next round — and we keep going until we have a winner! We encourage you to join the conversation about which jams you want to vote for — the more voices, the merrier.
[This post is courtesy of Jeremy Levine (@Franklin) - ed.]
Summer 2016 was a confusing time for Phish fans. After Thrilling Chilling, Miami NYE (feat. “Disease”), all of Summer 2015, Magnaball, MSG NYE (feat. “Tweezer” and “Hourglass”), the band seemed to be on a rollercoaster that only went up. But the next summer tour didn’t get off to the same strong start as we saw the previous year in Bend, and catching up to 2015’s heights seemed essentially impossible after the East Coast run wrapped up in Syracuse. 2016 certainly had its gems and generated a lot of great music, but it seemed like we had crested the peak.
And then, after a strong-but-not-legendary Dick’s run (feat. “Simple”… and I guess “Crosseyed and Painless”), the Big Boat arrived. Phish’s studio albums have never been the most exciting part of their output, but some fans saw this new record as validation of the hypothesis that 2016 Phish was a neutered Phish, dropping far below expectations.
But then we had Fall Tour 2016, a mind-boggling New Year’s Run, and an unstoppably good summer tour (feat. Baker’s Dozen). With Big Boat’s one-year anniversary this Saturday, I think it’s time to take a look at the album that showed up in the middle of this pivot — how its compositions stand up now that the hype cycle is behind us, and how its songs have weaved their way into the live format.
[We would like to thank Jeremy Levine, @Franklin, for writing the recap of last night's show.]
The Baker’s Dozen has felt like a weird jamband version of "Chopped." High stakes, themed sets, and more and more songs off the table with each passing night (presumably) means that they have to make something new and inventive in the face of confounding restrictions. Yesterday, when Phish opened its basket to reveal Rainbow Jimmies, expectations and predictions started to heat up. “The Squirming Coil” seemed like it was off the table after having been played the first night (7/21), but we could still be up for “Runaway Jim,” “Harpua,” something from Hendrix, Jimmy Page, or Quadrophenia, plus “Rainbow Connection,” “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” or any other curve balls the band might have in store. After hearing about "Chocolate Rain," a thirty-minute "Lawn Boy," and the legendary spicy chicken sandwiches at Section 119, I couldn’t wait to see what Phish would cook up for my only Baker’s Dozen show.
You’re probably thinking “Well, yeah. I knew that from the moment they transitioned into 'Simple.'” While your predictive abilities are impressive, that particular jam winning the tournament is pretty far from the point. We vote on "Jam of the Year" not just for the sake of finding an answer to the “What’s the best jam of the year?”, but rather for the sake of improving our critical listening and getting closer to the music. [And having fun. - Editor's note.]
To catch you up: a small group of .netters put together a bracket that pitted 64 of 2016’s finest jams against each other. Each week, we created a forum thread in which people could vote on these individual matchups, with the “winning” jams advancing into further rounds.
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